June 6, 1944, 70 years ago the Allied Forces landed on the beaches of Normandy. It was supposed to be June 5, 1944, but weather delayed it.
Every year we remember those who fought for us. There’s pomp and ceremony and we say we care.
But what about the rest of the year?
Should veterans have to fight for food, shelter, care, and support?
Should we still keep fighting, in wars, in our own countries, among ourselves?
More than 40% don’t vote in North America. We’re so used to our freedoms we take them for granted. We will stay in line for a sale or tickets or waiting for a new product, but don’t take 5 minutes to vote. I know, I voted this morning, it took under 5 minutes; people wait in line at drive-thrus longer than that to get coffee or a burger. I really don’t get it.
Many died that day and for the months after as they fought to take back German-occupied Western Europe and tried and succeeded in turning the tides of the war.
Many call them heroes, but I think most of them didn’t think of themselves that way, they were doing their duty, carrying out orders.
Like police officers and firefighters, soldiers serve their country and its citizens by putting their lives on the line. We see it as brave, they see it as a job, that someone must protect, serve, save, and defend.
Maybe that’s what makes them truly heroes, that they don’t do it to be heroes.
The Normandy landings, codenamed Operation Overlord (with the naval aspect codenamed Operation Neptune) is still the largest seaborne invasion in history. Many movies, books, TV shows, songs, etc. have come from that day. Obviously many aren’t factual, after all, history is written by the winners, but still interesting.
It wasn’t until 1997 that the undersea documentation of the D-Day assault were looked at in a historically significant way, sadly, by then, there was erosion and reclamation by the sea. First underwater archaeological study and surveys in 2000.
They found some interesting information and artefacts as well as some discrepancies.
To this day, small pieces of history haunt the shores and seas of Normandy, a bizarre reminder that history should be remembered, all those who fought, honoured.
I was thinking, if they tried to do something like this today social media would probably tell the German forces every move, how many troops, ships, planes…there would be pictures of parachutes and tweets and pix of where they were landing, people updating their Facebook status and Vine vids…Instagrammers would briefly interrupt posting pix of food to tell where and how many allied forces were and what they were wearing. And many, many memes.
We still don’t know the exact number that died during the Allied invasion. 14 years ago Carol Tuckwiller, a former librarian was assigned the significant mission of identifying every Allied soldier who died on June 6, 1944.
She spent over six years searching through records and evidence, contacting sources, etc., eventually giving up not because all soldiers were accounted for, but she ran out of credible information.
So 70 years later and out of more than 150,000 warriors who went in that day, no one knows for sure how many died. But her work brought many names of fallen soldiers into the historical records and onto plaques and made us realize there were more lives lost than we had understood.
Despite the glossy ceremonies under sun upon sand we must always remember the price of war and the higher price of oppression.
Lives lost, futures stolen, dignity torn asunder, money and power the tyrannical rulers…we could be talking about 70 years ago or any day in various parts of the world, sadly, too little has changed.
Politicians make hypocritical speeches about how much our veterans mean to us while many veterans struggle just to get by in their day-to-day lives.
Those who once stormed the beaches to fight the enemy and liberate oppressed people now have to storm their own governments for the care and attention they should receive with thanks for their valiant service.
Some of the best images of the D-Day invasion are from Canadian war artist, Orville Fisher (the 3 paintings pictured above, please check out his other work, truly, truly amazing).
I doubt the significance of the weathered faces and stiff bodies of the remaining veterans is lost on them or us; make no mistake, most will not be here to celebrate 75 years after D-Day.
We must then remember for them.